After about 2 weeks, I’d managed to complete about 70 miles of the “real” Whites. That averages to about five miles per day. Even two months before, when I’d spent half of every day swimming in lakes, I was averaging better than that. And I still had 45 left to go before the Maine border. And I can tell you now: my average didn’t improve much at all for the remainder of it. When it comes to arduous hiking, there’s nothing like the Whites anywhere on the eastern seaboard.
I had set myself up on the edge of the road and the parking lot so I could try to bum rides from hikers leaving or entering the woods. It didn’t take super long to find a couple in a van headed towards Gorham on the way out of state and home. They took me to Gorham, and I explained that actually I was trying to get to the Lodge just on the eastern end of town near the A.T. They were perfectly happy to carry me that far, even though it was well out of their way.
Eventually (eons later), an older couple in a van picked me up, indicating that they were hikers themselves and very amenable to giving them a lift when they get the chance. They drove me right to the doorstep of the Lodge, even though it was much farther than I expected, way past the far end of town.
When I last posted, Copper had just completed his first supravigintal day, and I was tented on a cant on a tangle of shrubs just out of the wind. I woke up late the next morning, of course, having been up until 2am, and by the time I packed up the next morning, all of the folks I’d left 8 mi. back at Niday Shelter had passed me. It would seem that my extra walking in the night hadn’t bought me anything, but the truth is, I can’t imagine getting up early enough to walk 18 miles by 4:30pm, but I only had ten miles to go on fresh legs.
Halfway down the hill I was stopped by a random guy who was interviewing everyone that came down that hill, collecting trail names, hometowns, start points, etc. for some video blog thing. I was still too sleepy to remember to give the address of this blog, but if anyone finds out where he posted that video, leave a comment here and I’ll see if I can get a link back here on it.
From there, it was down to the creek where Copper got his first good drink in half a day (because there was no water up on the ridge) then a climb back up over Cove Mountain en route to Dragon’s Tooth.
I am now 370 miles into my hike and have between five and six times that much to go from here, so hurray for being more than 1/6 done! Also, I have my trail legs now and the weather is finally perfect for hiking. I am also about 80 miles into VA and all I can say is: wow. Privies everywhere!
It was 8pm by the time I posted last and headed out of Damascus. It was almost dark, so as soon as the AT crossed the road and went upstairs, I pulled out my headlamp. We probably walked 5 miles before arriving at a stream where another trail crossed and a tiny stony campsite with barely enough space for my tent. I couldn’t stake it out properly, but Comet had said not to expect rain and indeed it was a clear night the whole time we hiked, and the temperatures were perfect. So I left the rainfly off to get the cool air flowing through, put Copper inside, and went right to sleep.
Copper woke me at 3am and I soon heard why. Thunder! Lightning! It was a huge electrical storm. But Copper and Stevie Nicks both seemed to think it would rain, so I stumbled outside barefoot and put the rainfly on. Of course, I couldn’t stake it out right either because of the stones and the fact that I was stumbling around barefoot in the dark while the stakes were inside.